Milorad Pavić

m. pavicMilorad Pavić (born 15. 10. 1929 in Belgrade, Serbia – Sign Libra, Ascendant Scorpio, Aztec horoscope, Serpent). Serbian prose writer and poet, historian of Serbian litera­ture of XVII – XIX century, expert on Serbian Baroque and symbolistic poetry, translator of Pushkin and Byron, university professor (lectures at New Sorbonne, Vienna, Novi Sad, Freiburg, Regensburg, Belgrade), full Member of ‘ Serbian Academy of Sciences and Arts (elected 1991). Not a member of any political party. Pavić is a member of Societe Europeenne de Culture and of the International Council of the Moscow periodical “Inostrannaya Literatura”.

Pavić is the author of novels, poetry, short stories and one play. Pavić’s work has had more than 80 translations (in separate books) in different languages throughout the world. Milorad Pavić was nominated for the Nobel prize in literature by experts in Europe, the USA and Brazil. His wife is Jasmina Mihajlović, writer and literary critic. They live in Belgrade.

www.khazars.com

 

Autobiography

I have been a writer for two hundred years now. Long ago, in 1766, a Pavić published a collection of poems in Budim and we have considered ourselves a family of writers ever since.

I was born in 1929 on the banks of one of the four rivers of Paradise, at 8:30 in the morning, under the sign of Libra (ascendant Scorpio), or, according to the Aztec horoscope, the Snake.

The first time bombs rained down on me when I was twelve. The second time I was fifteen. In between those two bombings I fell in love for the first time and was made to learn German under the German occupation. I also learned English secretly from a gentleman who smoked fragrant pipe tobacco. At the same time I forgot French for the first time (I was later to forget it twice more).

Finally, in a kennel where 1 had sought shelter from the Anglo-American bombing, an emigre Russian imperial officer started teaching me Russian from books of poems by Fet and Tyutchev, the only Russian books he had. Today I think learning languages was a kind of transformation into different bewitching animals.

I have loved two Johns – John of Damascus and John Chrysostom (the Golden-Tongued).

I have been far more successful at love in my books than in my life. With one exception, which continues to this day. In my sleep night sweetly clasped both cheeks.

I was the most unread writer in my country until 1984, after which I became the most widely read.

I wrote one novel in the form of a dictionary, a second in the form of a crossword, a third in the form of a clepsydra and a fourth in the form of a tarot book. I tried to be as little trouble to these novels as possible. I believe the novel is a kind of cancer – it lives of it’s metastasis.

To my astonishment, my books have already been translated 73 times into different languages. In short, I have no biography. I have only a bibliography.

Critics in France and Spain have remarked that I am the first writer of the 21st century, but I lived in the 20th century when innocence not guilt had to be proven.

I knew I should not touch the living with the same hand that had touched the dead in my dreams.

The greatest disappointments in my life have come from my victories. Victory does not pay.

I have not killed anyone. But they have killed me. Long before my death. It would have been better for my books had their author been a Turk or a German. I was the best known writer of the most hated nation in the world – the Serbian nation.

XXI century started for me avant la date 1999 when NATO airforces bombed Belgrade and Serbia. Since that moment the river Danube on whose banks I was born has not been navigable.

I think God graced me with infinite favor by granting me the joy of writing, and punished me in equal measure, precisely because of that joy perhaps.

 

BOOKS (First Editions in Serbian):

Palimpsests, poems, 1967; History of Serbian Literature in the Age of the Baroque (17th18th century), 1970; Moon Stone, poems, 1971; Vojislav Ilić and European Poetry, 1971; Gavril Stefanović Venclović, 1972; Vojislav Ilić, His Times and Work (Chronicle of a Family of Poets), 1972; The Iron Curtain, stories, 1973; The Memory in Language and the Poetic Form, essays, 1976; The Horses of Saint Mark’s, stories, 1976; History of Serbian Literature in Age of Classicism and Pre-Romanticism, 1979; Borzoi, stories, 1979; New Belgrade Stories, 1981; Souls Bathe for the Last Time, poems and prose, 1982; The Birth of New Serbian Literature, 1983; Dictionary of the Khazars, a novel-lexi- con in 100.000 words, 1984; History, Class and Style, essays, 1985; Landscape Painted with Tea, novel, 1988; The Inverted Glove, stories, 1989; A Short History of Belgrade, 1990; Inner Side of the Wind or A Novel of Hero and Leander, 1991; History of Serbian Literature 2, 3, 4. (Baroque, Classicism, Pre-Romanticism), 1991; Theatre Menu: For Ever and a Day, 1993; Last Love in Constantinople. Tarot-Novel, 1994; The Fish Skin Hat. A Love Story, 1996; Snail of Glass. Short stories for Internet, 1998; Milorad Pavić, Jasmina Mihajlović: Two tales from Kotor, 1998; China’s Underground Army, 1999; Writing Box, novel, 1999; Star Cape. An astrologic guide for amateurs, 2000; Terrifying Love Stories, selected and new, 2001; The Tale that Killed Emily Knorr, 2005; The Novel as a State and other essays, 2005.

 

Book reviews

In his fatherland Pavic was accepted in the best way from the very moment he published Dictionary of the Khazars. The first review of that “book of the future” anticipated a lot of things critic will have later to say: “This wonder of a book is at one and the same time a novel, a collection of stories, a book of verse, a historical study, a cabalistic handbook, in short – absolute literature”. (Raša Livada)

Notwithstanding the age in which the story is set, his manuscript is as though written by the wise hand of ancient, sacral, mythical and magical high priests and ma­gicians who hold in their hand the secret of man’s fate, and open it only after great exploits and ordeals have been accomplished, when man can change nothing more… (Zoran Gluščević).

French and Spanish reviews say: “Pavic is the author of the first book of the XXI century” (Paris Match, 1988), and in Austria he is ”Stabfuhrer der euro- paischen Postmoderne”. For The Washington Times Pavic is a “Homeric storyteller”, for Anthony Burgess Pavic’s intention seems” to be to elevate the book or BOOK, or Box of Organised Knowledge into a magical object – a nearanimal that can talk to itself or to other books, a lethal weapon” (Observer, 1989). For South America he is “one of the most important writers of today” (Veja, Sao Paulo). Among living authors Pavic is the most cited by electronic (hyperfiction) writers in the US in 1992 and 1993 as Robert Coover said in The New York Times (1993). “Pavic es una de las grandes figuras de la literatura mundial” (Tiempo, Madrid 1994). “There are books provoking in the reader something like a chemical reaction… Dictionary of the Khazars contains such a ’poison’ (Mainichi Shimbun, Japan 1993). ”In his work we have the unity of Byzantine mysticism and the energy of Balkan tradition and myths” (Evgenios Aranicis, Elefterotipia, Athens 1994). ”In Last Love in Constantinople we find that wonderful literary imagination and poetically inspired language which secure Pavic a special place in modern literature… A place in every prose anthology” (Aleksandar Jerkov). “Each copy of Pavic’s book will live it’s own life” (Pazit Ravina, Davar, Israel). “Welch phantastischen Konstruktion, welche la- byrintischen Paradoxa, welch trostlose Geschichte zwis- chen Tod und Tod” says the German reviewer of the novel Inner Side of the Wind (Rheinischer Kurier 1995). “Erneut stellt Pavic seine unbandige und mit tausend Ranken ins Geheimnisvolle spriessende Fabulierkunst unter Beweis.” (Mittelbayerische Zeitung, 1995). ”11 nous a contamine par une connaissance dun autre genre” (Alain Bosquet). “Pavic has the power to transcend the tradition of the 20th century novel in a way which differs from that of the ’nouveau roman’ and nouveau nouveau roman’ (Nezavisimaya gaze- ta, Moscow 1997).

For more datasee the book by Jasmina Mihajlović: Biobibliography of Milorad Pavić (separately and as a part of the Book “Anahoret in New York” incorporated in Collected Works, Belgrade, 1996).

Books by Milorad Pavić have been published in 38 world languages and circulation of over 4 million copies. His dramas are successfully performed at the leading theatres of Russia, Europe and America.